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And the Team Played On

On this scorching hot day the local politicians were lined up at the hand-shakin’ door of the old city hall and community center. Armed with a smile and a fistful of flyers, each one assured potential voters that their ballot could be wasted only if it were miscast to some ne’er-do-well opponent – i.e., those who didn’t show up for the Dodge City Lions’ Club annual barbecue and hoedown.

Inside the smoke-filled room, a local all-string band played and sang hauntingly, “They’re tearing the home place down. They’re tearing the home place down. Oh why did I leave these plowing fields to find a job in town?”

At an opportune break in the music, a young man walked up to the band and requested a not-from-around-here song (which, obviously, they did not know). There was dead silence. After a long moment of hesitation, a collective consenting nod rose from the pickers and players. The bandleader winked and said, “Well, you just start ‘er out and we’ll catch up with you.” They did. It was magnificent music, and something beyond what I have every experienced as teamwork.

Corporate Sense or Common Sense
There are increasingly complex models of how teams should work together to meet the unrelenting changes in organizations today. Many team-building models are based on successful big town sports teams’ philosophies or Fortune 500 companies’ project management schemes. Sometimes they work. But many are too cumbersome for most teams- teams who are under unyielding pressure to perform at the next level.

But on this summer day, a ragtag group of guitar, banjo and fiddle players leaned heads together, latched onto the new rhythm and hit the right harmony. Within minutes they ”catched up” and capitalized on a distraction that dropped into their standard agenda. It was easy to see that their next-level performance was the result of valuing 4 things: a clear and shared purpose, laser-like concentration on each person’s role, honor of each team member’s contribution and intentional flexibility to adapt to change.

Could these “plowing field” country band principles apply to other groups who want to become more effective teams? It’s an idea worth playing around with.

Journal Entry: Have you been on a team that got in rhythm and achieved great things together? What things did you learn then, but you may not use now because of pressure to apply some big city ideas? Make a note of some of those common sense ideas . Consider how you might apply them as you play on in your leadership and life.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. — Michael Jordan, player

Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. — Vince Lombardi, coach

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. –Helen Keller, teacher

Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back — For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. — From The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees. – Jason Kidd, coach

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